Congratulations, you’re a Tribute!

As we all wait (and wait and wait and wait) for Catching Fire to open in theaters, we Hunger Games fans need something to occupy our time. In lieu of reading the book again, which I feel will just lead to more disappointment when the movie ends up changing details, how about we get up, get out, and volunteer as tribute in a fun, non-lethal version of The Hunger Games? Get your friends together and try out this playable version created by some campers at the summer camp I work for.


The Hunger Games- Cornucopia

  • Large Playing Space- We used a Dek Hockey court as our arena, but any large space will work such as an open field, a beach, or even some sparse woods
  • Obstacles/Barriers- If you’re using a flat playing field you’re gonna want some cover, so set up whatever kind of barriers you can manage which will be large enough to hide behind. We used stiff yoga mats set up on their sides but you can use just about anything. Perhaps some folding chairs with a sheet draped between them or a sheet of plywood propped up with sticks. Get creative! If you’re playing in the woods the trees would make excellent cover.
  • Ammunition- For our purposes dodge-balls worked perfectly, but depending on what you have at your disposal/how seriously you want to play this, you can use almost any kind of ball. NERF guns would be a pretty excellent addition, if available. Please be safe though and don’t use real weapons. I don’t want to turn on the news and see someone took a spear to the chest (or an arrow to the knee) while playing a live version of The Hunger Games!
  • Players- The more the merrier! If you have an even number I suggest making teams  of two and assigning districts, but if you have an odd number feel free to adjust accordingly.
  • Paper, Pencil, and Container- For the Reaping. Write down each player’s name on a slip of paper, fold it in half, and place it into a container of your choosing in order to randomly select teams.

Game Play

The Hunger Games- Playing

  1. Arrange the barricades and ammunition in the arena before playing. Set up a starting area for all the tributes to stand when the games begin and arrange a cornucopia displaying the ammunition in plain sight.
  2. The first pair of names drawn in the Reaping are the District 1 tributes. (Creating character names and histories is highly encouraged, though not 100% necessary for game play) The following pair drawn creates District 2’s tributes, then District 3’s and so on. If anyone complains that they wanted to be from a different district, simply remind them that no one gets to pick their district in Panem and they should be grateful to their Capitol for how well they are cared for in their individual district.
  3. Give tributes some time to strategize with each other. Will they play as a team, or fly solo? Do they want to start an alliance with any other players from the other districts? Are they going to dive straight into the cornucopia or are they looking for cover first? These decisions are solely up to the individual players and are neither promoted nor discouraged by the rules. Five minutes should be more than enough time for this discussion as the Capitol is waiting eagerly for the Games to begin.
  4. Once ready, players should take their spots in the starting area. A 30 second countdown must be completed before players step into the arena. Any players who try to leave the starting platform early are instantly removed from the game.
  5. After the 30 seconds are up, players must enter the arena and head for the cornucopia or look for cover. Staying on the starting platform is not wise as it leaves one open to attack.
  6. Players attack one another by using the dodge-balls. Whatever limb is struck by the dodge-ball is lost and cannot be used. For example, if the ball hits a player’s arm, that player must put the arm behind his or her back and rely solely on the opposite arm. If struck in the leg, the leg must be drawn up and the player is reduced to hopping on the remaining limb.
    1. If both arms and both legs are lost, the player is still alive but has no mobility and must sit down cross-legged. It will be up to the decision of the remaining players to put said player out of their misery with a mercy kill.
  7. A player is only eliminated from the game after receiving a lethal blow. A lethal blow is any time the ball strikes a player’s head or the center of their chest.
  8. The Games continue until one player remains. This lone champion is the victor of The Hunger Games.


Please consider these rules a guideline and feel free to adjust! Depending on how long you want The Games to last, try adding in ways to heal the players. Maybe medicines or vouchers for artificial limbs can be hidden discretely in the arena for players to find, or perhaps some players can be medics rather than tributes and go around healing the injured players. Could you work in the search for food to your game? Maybe by hiding fake food containers in the arena during set-up. Then, during the games, set a timer and any player who hasn’t found food or water within the first ten minutes is eliminated due to starvation.

If you play this game, let me know in the comments! I’d especially love to hear if you came up with any variations.